Former Manchester City defender Richard Dunne does not believe Liverpool’s newly crowned Premier League champions will go down in the history books as one of the great winners of the English title.
Jurgen Klopp’s side appeared to be on course to smash all records as they closed in on 100 points after a runaway title win, but a stumble in the final few weeks of the season saw them finish the campaign on 99 points after a win at Newcastle on Sunday.
That meant they were one point shy of Manchester City’s Premier League points record from their 2017/18 title-winning season. And Dunne believes their aborted push to shatter records will impact their place in football folklore.
“Liverpool’s newly crowned Premier League champions were on course to claim a place in football folklore as one of the best teams of all-time in English football, but I don’t think they will be regarded in that light now that now,” he wrote in his column for Ireland’s Herald newspaper.
“No-one can deny that Liverpool are worthy champions in a season when their consistency saw them open up a huge gap on Manchester City at the top of the table.
“They have some great players and play a brand of winning football that is hard to stop, but the teams that are etched into the history books as the ultimate champions shatter all the important records and Liverpool have come up short in that mission.
“To be fair here, I have some sympathy for Jurgen Klopp and his players because before the lockdown, they were in top gear and winning week after week as they pulled clear at the top of the table.
“Back in February, it was hard to imagine them not getting well in excess of 100 points, but the maximum they can finish with now is 99 and their failure to beat City’s Premier League points total from a couple of years ago will impact how people look at this team in years to come.
“Now, in my view, they will just be seen as great champions rather than the best as the history books will not have a special place for this Liverpool team after all.”
Dip in form may run into next season
Dunne also suggested Liverpool’s end of season dip in form will have an impact at the start of next season, he believes they may struggle to crank back into top gear.
“Their foot has come off the gas and now we wait to see whether they can get back in gear when they start the defence of their title in September,” he stated
“That date will roll around very quickly now and Liverpool’s players will need to clear their head and rediscover their focus because they have not been playing at the same tempo consistently over the last six weeks.
“Their 4-0 defeat at Manchester City at the start of this month highlighted how they have not quite had their game face on and you had the impression that the Liverpool players were already looking forward to next season as they went through the motions in some of the games they have played of late.
“They are the champions now and need to perform like that from now on, which will create slightly different pressures for Klopp and his players. Everyone will want to get the scalp of the champions on their record next season and teams will look at the way they have performed in the last few weeks and think they there may be a few little holes in their make-up that can be exposed.
“City will be stronger next season and I’d expect them to look to strengthen their defence this summer, with their success in overturning their UEFA Champions League ban opening up the prospect of being a little more ambitious in the transfer market.
“You’d expect Chelsea and Manchester United to go up a few steps as well and Tottenham and Arsenal should be better than they have been this season as well, so it won’t be as easy for Liverpool next time.”